On the Spot – Ellen van der Velden

Why do you run?
Because I can! This has not always been the case. When I was little, I had bony lumps growing on legs and arms causing issues with exercising. They called me the terminator at secondary school as I had metal pins sticking out of my arm and walked round on crutches (i.e. poking sticks).

I started running at Uni after signing up for a relay run. I did the last 5k leg and I must have been one of the last to cross the finish line as the men – who started 15 min after the ladies – were starting to overtake me. Since then, I never stopped running despite lots of well-intended advice suggesting that I should pick another sport given my bone condition. Glad I never listened!

What race or moment in your running career holds the most significance and why?
My first half marathon. I had an irrational fear of not being able to complete it, so I picked one that passed four times my parents’ house. The last 5k of my first marathon was also pretty good, as I suddenly realised that I was going to finish it.

Who is my running inspiration?
Years ago, I met Haile Gebrselassie at a half marathon in The Hague. I knew the organisers of the race and let me start at the front with the pros. Thought it would be fun to start next to Haile, but it was a big mistake. It was hell with hundreds of runners storming past me. However, I survived and had a chat with Haile back at the hotel, which was lovely.

What event, past or present, would you like to take part in and why?
If I would have to pick one, I would say the London marathon because of the crowds. However, I increasingly get niggles in places where I still have bony lumps and I’m not sure I would survive the training so for the time being, I just make sure I enjoy every single run.

What golden piece of advice would you give to other runners?
If you are not born as a runner, it doesn’t mean that can’t become one. Take it step by step, be patient and simply refuse to give up.

What is next?
Can’t wait to get back on track! Had a knee operation in November and working hard to build up my running again.

Who would you like to nominate for the next on the spot?
Sam Stillwell

Posted in Runners Blogs.


  1. This is so inspiring Ellen, To push yourself through the niggles and ongoing challenges you face, you’re an incredible runner

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